by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Wheatfield Town Board on Monday did some final tweaking on its biosolids law to ensure that Quasar won't be injecting its equate, which includes treated human waste, into town farm fields.
The three-point addition to the biosolids law passed last month makes technical revisions to further ensure the health and safety of town residents and to set penalties, including fines and jail time for violations.
When community members who for months have been protesting the application of biosolids in the town still worriedly suggested additional restrictions, Town Attorney Robert O'Toole emphasized the law provides there would be "absolutely no application in Wheatfield ... ever."
The first provision, O'Toole said, makes the law even more clear that even if a land application was approved by the state before the town's law was enacted, it cannot be applied. It also notes the operation of an existing anaerobic digestion facility or storage facility can continue, but not be expanded or modified.
The second section clarifies that an existing anaerobic digestion facility can apply to the Town Board for a special use permit to allow for conversion of its treatment process or other modifications that would eliminate or significantly reduce potential threats to health or the environment.
Any special use permit would have to be approved by the Town Board and a public hearing on the matter would be announced not less than 10 days before the hearing in the official town newspapers.
The final section sets parameters for fines and jail time for violators.
"If they violate our law, we want to bring action against them," O'Toole said.
As Supervisor Bob Cliffe, a former Wheatfield town justice, pointed out, this would come down to the persons who signed the contract.
Quasar local representative Nathan Carr, biomass account executive, said at the meeting he hoped the Niagara County Sewer District No. 1 in Wheatfield will be held to the same standards and that Quasar was not being singled out, Carr stated after the meeting "Quasar energy group is disappointed that the Wheatfield Town Board continues to take actions that are inconsistent with both the long-standing policy of the State of New York and previous approvals by the Town Board and the Town Planning Board. Further, the actions run contrary to the preponderance of science that supports the use of products like equate for agronomic benefit."
Carr added, "Quasar facilities produce sustainable renewable energy and address regional waste management challenges. We are committed to our investment in the region and we are anxious to collaborate with the Town of Wheatfield to do the next right thing."
Councilman Gil Doucet was concerned that there appeared to be no provision to ensure the company, not the town, would pay for any cleanup of seepage or a spill at the Quasar plant on Liberty Drive. He pointed out the plant is next to a creek and near the Niagara River.
O'Toole said the law could be amended further to include this in the future.
Some residents also suggested adding a provision to make the company suspend production of equate in case of a violation, but Cliffe pointed out that could potentially cause unwanted on-site problems.
Monica Daigler wanted to make sure Quasar paid for any Freedom of Information Act requests. "We did," she said.
One resident talked about how use of pig manure was believed to cause leprosy in Nepal.
"The dirtiest animal on earth is the human," he said, noting that biosolids containing human waste are not wanted. "Not in Wheatfield where I live."
In other matters:
•The board authorized the town Highway Department to do drainage remediation work on property on Klemer Road, Thornwoods Drive and Rose Court, provided that the owners of affected property provide the town with an easement prior to the work.
•The board authorized the purchase of a sign for the Ward Cemetery on Lockport Road for $850 from Cooper Sign. O'Toole explained that the town is responsible for abandoned cemeteries and that there currently is no sign at this site.
•Town Clerk Kathleen Harrington-McDonell announced that hunting licenses are now on sale, which is earlier than usual.
•Look for news of the Wheatfield Town Picnic in the Aug. 21 edition of the Niagara-Wheatfield Tribune or visit www.wheatfieldfamilypicnic.com. The picnic will be held Sunday, Aug. 24, in Fairmount Park.
•The next Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25.
•The Niagara County Highway Department is closing the Lockport Road bridge over Bergholz Creek, 400 feet east of Hoover Road, this week and reopening it around Aug. 31. Signage will direct drivers to a detour on Ward, Saunders Settlement and Shawnee roads.